Senator Bernie Sanders may have just received his 10 millionth contribution. People might be voting for him on ballots all the way until June. He might be giving policy prescriptions for the future of the country.
But one thing that Sanders is definitely not doing after being routed in three primary contests on Tuesday: seriously running for president.
It’s unclear how exactly Sanders wants to wind down his presidential campaign. It’s also unclear how exactly the presidential primary calendar will work with states delaying their primaries with the intent of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Ohio, for example, did not vote as planned on Tuesday. Georgia’s primary, scheduled for next week, has also been postponed.
But what is mathematically clear is that unless former vice president Joe Biden is no longer able to be the Democratic presidential nominee for whatever reason, Sanders has no path to the nomination.
After Tuesday’s primaries, roughly 60 percent of delegates have been awarded. Biden holds a roughly 300 delegate lead. From here on out, Sanders will need to notch 20 point wins in every state that follows. As it stands, Sanders is losing in most national polls by at least 20 points.
In a livestreamed address from his home in Delaware, Biden tried to move on to the general election against President Trump by appealing to the only demographic that Sanders is beating Biden with: young people.
“Let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what is at stake. And I know what we have to do,” said Biden.
Sanders, however, made no remarks after the results of the day’s contests were known. And in his own livestreamed remarks earlier in the day, he offered no signals as to what he might do next.
Instead, the half-hour long address was the perfect encapsulation of where Sanders is at politically. He cannot hold large rallies due to the coronavirus. He can’t issue negative broadsides against Biden in a last-minute attempt to win the nomination because it is out of step in the pandemic mindset of voters. And the coronavirus is crowding out his ability to get needed news coverage.
Yet because he is technically a presidential candidate and he has a devoted following, he has a platform that only a few American politicians have. So, for example, when he proposes that every American receive $2,000 a month during the pandemic, as he did during his livestream, it will, at least, get some attention.
Given that Sanders isn’t signaling what his next move might be, the interesting voices now might be from outside of his campaign. Will Biden and other establishment Democrats try to force Sanders out of the race?
It is unclear just how much Sanders is impeding Biden’s ability to defeat President Trump this fall, but at the same time, his presence isn’t unifying the party.
One reason why there isn’t more of an outpouring of calls for Sanders to drop out is fear that his most ardent fans will turn on Biden and not show up in the general election. Another reason there isn’t a “drop out Bernie” movement is because politicians and party leaders are focused on other things right now.
But if there are no more presidential primary debates, basically no ads, and no one fighting back, Sanders is just a prominent senator from now until the moment he retires.